Marker Announces All-New Backcountry Binding

We test a new ski-touring binding from industry-giant Marker.
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Marker Völkl International: New Kingpin Binding - Photo by Peter Mathis

After three years of secret tinkering, Marker reveals a new addition to its Royal Family of bindings.

Called the Kingpin, this new “tech” binding—industry speak for a lightweight alpine-touring binding with toe pins that grasp boots' toes on their sides (see pictures below)—offers the strength and stability of an alpine binding in a lightweight backcountry package. It's reportedly the first-ever tech binding to be DIN ISO certified.

In the Kingpin, Marker combined a tech toe—for light, efficient touring—with an alpine-style heel, for step-in convenience, stability, and power transmission. The sound it makes when you click in is that same reassuring whomp as the brand’s well-known Duke tour-capable alpine binding. When switched from ski to walk mode, a lever underneath the boot slides the heelpiece back, so you can switch back and forth without taking off your ski or rotating the heelpiece.

It weighs 730 grams with brakes (brakeless option is 650 grams), only about a bar of chocolate heavier than the competition—similar offerings from brands like Dynafit, G3, Plum, and Fritschi Diamir.

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Photo: Marker Völkl International - Adam Clark 

The toe has six springs (Marker calls them a “Six Pack”) versus the traditional four, giving it robust grip on the boot and making releases on angled ascents highly unlikely. It comes in two DIN ranges (5­-10 and 6­-13) that cost $599 and $649, respectively. Optional ski crampons and two brake widths (75-­100 and 100­-125 mm) are also available. And Marker offers a “demo” version—with adjustable boot-sole length—the first tech binding to do so.

We tested the binding last week near Termas de Chillan, in the Las Trancas valley of Chile, covering every terrain imaginable. On day one, we toured up the resort because high winds had closed the lifts down, and skied off-piste in soft windblown chalk followed by corn. On day two, we summited the 10,452-foot Volcan Nuevo, where we encountered 90 mph winds at the summit followed by teeth-rattling ice, a bit of soft chalk, frozen groomers coated in Volcanic rock dust, and finally a few corn-snow turns near the bottom. On day three, we took one blue-ice run at the resort, then toured into the volcanoes for sweet September corn and a sticky run-out through volcanic rock formations and bamboo forests.

First Impressions

This binding is unlike anything in the backcountry market. Its downhill power is impressive—we could lay it over and give it everything with supreme confidence. Even on sidehill terrain, when getting into other tech bindings can be tricky, it’s super easy to click into the Kingpin’s toe unit. Plus, the walk/ski mechanism is simple and intuitive.

Photo: Marker Völkl International 

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The two climbing bars took a little practice to flip down with a pole basket or grip, but we got the hang of it. We had to remember to be sure to switch it into ski mode before I took my skins off to engage the brakes, but generally I had to do way less thinking with this binding than with some of its competitors. And even with a large group of people testing the Kingpin in Chile for the month prior to my trip, there were reportedly zero prereleases or malfunctions.

This is a tech binding that a hard charger would likely be happy to ski full time—making the one-ski-quiver for backcountry and resort skiers a potential reality.

The Kingpin is scheduled to be available in stores by December 15. 

Watch Stian Hagen explain how the new Marker Kingpin binding works here:

Here's a closer look at the binding itself.

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